20 January 2006

Late Night, Random Thoughts on TV

A couple of reflections on the 60 minutes of television I viewed tonight.
  1. Queer as Folk 'Pilot' UK. I thought it would be interesting to see what the original QasF was like, given that I'd seen the first season of the American version, and given that the original writer/creator of QasF is Russel T. Davies, who is now sort of the Joss Whedon of UK television. He's the one doing the new Doctor Who, and he's from Swansea. Alas, there was nothing to see since it turns out the US show and pilot is not just 'based on' the UK version but is an exact replica. The characters, their look, the scenes, the lines, the sets, the shots - all identical, right down to the lead guy's apartment and car.
  2. Gilmore Girls, Season 1. GG starts off very slowly. The first 8 episodes establish characters and seek out a 'feel' that isn't quite there. It surprises me a bit that the show wasn't cancelled, given that shows like Firefly and Wonderfalls can start out so amazingly well and still get cancelled (I know, it has nothing to do with the quality of the show). But Episode 9, 'Rory's Dance' is a true gem that reaches right up there to the levels of great episodes of Buffy or MSCL. I've just tried to summarise the developments of the final climactic scenes in which Lorelai confronts both her mother and her daughter, and Rory fights back, but my summary didn't do the scene justice. The genius here lies in its ability to let the teenagers be both teenagers and thinking, acting, responsible agents, who make real choices in the real world, rather than operating in an artificial melodramatic space. Their actions have a certain poetic/tragic literary quality precisely because they are just kids, but this only works because the writers refuse to place these kids in 'adult contexts' (meaning the life and death hyper-reality of adults on TV). At the risk of offending certain readers, it's precisely its refusal to turn Rory, Dean, Paris, Jess, etc. into 90210/Dawsons/OC characters that makes the show work. (Last night I saw the first episode of season 3 of the OC and it was hard to find it anything but ridiculous - death, murder, mayhem makes it difficult to see teenagers as charming, especially with the mayhem is all quite literal rather than mythical a la Joss. The first season of OC works because the conflict that drives it is all teenage conflict - fitting in, being the new guy, making friends, dealing with folks you can't stand or who can't stand you. Having your girlfriend shoot your brother? Not really kids stuff, and far too dark to allow Adam Brody's charm to shine through.)

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